Fugitive arrested during routine traffic stop

July 8, 2010 4:55:55 AM PDT
A man wanted for six years for a murder in Michigan is now in jail, thanks to good detective work by Bellaire police. And it turns out this man had been arrested five times before in Harris County, but no one ever realized he was wanted for murder in another state.

The man is wanted on five felony charges ranging from murder to robbery. He might still be on the streets had it not been for a Bellaire police officer who kept digging.

It began as a routine traffic stop in the 5000 block of Bissonnet on June 28.

"He sees a vehicle driving with an expired license plate," Bellaire Police Department Asst. Chief Byron Holloway said.

Bellaire Police Officer Doug Clawson pulled the car over. The female driver had no driver's license, so he asked for the license of a male passenger so he could drive the vehicle away.

The man said he didn't have it with him, so the officer ran the name the man gave him -- Mike West -- and there were a lot of them. But Clawson remembered the female driver said she wasn't familiar with Texas laws; she was from Michigan.

So Clawson zeroed in on a West from Flint, Michigan who was wanted for murder and called Flint police.

"He said I have this person, the name and date of birth are close, but it's an alias so can you give me some information, and they said yes, on the right forearm he has a tattoo that says Flint," Holloway said.

When the officer checked the man's forearm, the tattoo was a match, so was the picture Flint police sent him on his cruiser computer.

West was known as Bryant Mitchell Henderson in Michigan and wanted on five felony counts including the 2004 murder of a young father Dequindre Stewart.

Harris County court records show West has been booked into the county jail by Houston police five times since 2005 on drug and theft charges.

"We don't know what his real name was, so when he was arrested by these other agencies, they had nothing to indicate this may be someone else," Holloway said.

Houston police say his fingerprints could not have been in the national system, otherwise there would have been a match.

But on that June night, the birth date he gave was enough for Clawson to connect the dots.

"That's something you really can't teach at the police academy," Holloway said. "That's something that you have or develop, and it's a credit to Officer Clawson for following up on this."

Officer Clawson is a former firefighter and has been a police officer less than two years.

West is currently in the Harris County jail without bond awaiting extradition to Michigan.


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